Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
More New Yorkers Live Below the Poverty Line, Census Shows
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
More New Yorkers live below the poverty line than did last year, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.
More than 3 million residents in New York state — or 16 percent of the population — were living below the poverty line in 2010, an increase from 15.8 percent in 2009 and 14.2 percent in 2008. According to census data, 68,000 more New Yorkers were living under the poverty line in 2010.
The margin of error is less than 1 percent.
New York and Florida share the designation of having the No. 15 highest poverty rate in the country. New York has the highest poverty rate in the tri-state area.
New Jersey's poverty rate was 10.7 percent in 2010. Connecticut had one of the lowest poverty rates in the country with 8.3 percent.
Though New York state's poverty rate is higher than the national average, its unemployment rate is lower.
Nationwide, unemployment is 9.2 percent. In New York, it is 8 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Poverty experts believe the statistics show that people are working but either part time or at jobs that pay too little.
"We know there's an awful lot of low-wage labor in New York — people in the service sector, people in the retail stores, people cleaning offices at night,",said Joel Berg from the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Poverty thresholds change according to a family's size. A family of four earning less than $22,113 annually is considered to be living in poverty, according to the Census Bureau.
Policy experts have long complained that poverty thresholds are too low. Estimates using an alternative measure for poverty introduced in 2009 will be released for the first time in October.
The Census Bureau said the new measure will deduct expenses like child support and child care from a person's income but will also add public benefits like food stamps and energy assistance as income. The new measure won't replace the current official poverty measure nor will it be used to determine eligibility for public benefits.
Poverty statistics at the city level are expected in December.